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Death of Renamo leader creates risks and opportunities

Publish date: 14 May 2018
Issue Number: 773
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Mozambique

The sudden death on 3 May of Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) party, has created both risks and opportunities for his party and the country. Peter Fabricius, an analyst with the Institute for Security Studies notes that Dhlakama saw himself as a champion of Mozambique's democracy, but was a hands-on dictator within Renamo. 'Like many other African leaders, he sidelined likely rivals and thereby failed to put any succession plan in place. He left many other loose ends in Renamo's immediate political future. So no one seems to have much idea of who might succeed him. Some observers were surprised that Renamo's national council appointed the party's defence chief Ossufo Momade, rather than secretary-general Manuel Bissopo, as interim leader. This is pending a decision, possibly by a full party congress, on a permanent new leader. Those two, and Dhlakama's niece Ivone Soares – head of Renamo's parliamentary caucus, look like the three main candidates for the top job.' Fabricius believes the election could decide which direction Renamo takes in the future – towards greater parliamentary politics or towards more election boycotts and warfare. Dhlakama, sometimes apparently under pressure from his generals, wavered between the two. He twice recently "returned to the bush", in 2013 and again in 2015, to resume low-level civil war. This was because Renamo believed it was being cheated in parliamentary politics.'

Full analysis on the Institute for Security Studies website